One of the lessons I learned early in my ministry life was that whenever I had a prompting from the Holy Spirit, I would follow it right away. Many people I’ve counseled over the years struggle with knowing what the Lord wants them to do. I am thankful that has never been a serious problem for me. I have always prayed, “Lord, give me promptings and I will obey them.” And when I get one, I just do what the Lord puts into my mind and heart. I don’t argue or delay. So for me, the will of God has always been just doing what God asks.
Promptings from the Holy Spirit usually come in quick, simple thoughts. For example, I clearly remember one day when I got out of bed, the Lord said to me as clearly as if I could hear it, “Start an endowment for International Teams.” My immediate response was, “For how much Lord?” And I heard in my head, “$10 million.”
I went to the board and asked for permission to start this fund, and over the years God build that fund with special gifts. An unexpected bequest provided $350,000. A committed couple gave stock valued at $300,000, and on and on the stories go, just because I said, “Yes, Lord.”
I remember the day when God said, “Rent Wheaton College and have a missions conference.” That sounded crazy, but I went to Wheaton and found out about renting their facilities over Christmas break. For twenty years, we held those congresses; and everywhere I go, people come up to me and say, “My life was changed at Wheaton in that missionary conference you held.”
I have found that there have been two prerequisites for hearing the Lord’s voice:
A prior commitment to obey. It is not a question of asking the Lord to show me and then I’ll decide if I should do it. It is clearly, “Lord, I’ll say ‘Yes’ to whatever you show me to do.”
An involvement in serving. In Genesis chapter 24, Abraham’s servant was sent to find a wife for Isaac. He didn’t know how the Lord would lead him, but he started out on the journey. In the process of going, the Lord led him. If we simply wait for God to speak, we may wait a long time. My experience has been that while fully serving the Lord with all my strength and gifts, God gives me promptings. These promptings have opened new doors, stopped me from actions that could have hindered the Lord’s work, and given me great joy from being obedient to His voice.
Promptings don’t come every day or every week; but if you commit to obey and listen, the Lord will speak in his quiet, clear voice, and you will know what to do. The more you obey and the more you listen, the more you will hear.